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Photo credit: Maruxa Cardenas Surillo

Our Sisters and Brothers in Puerto Rico Need Our Help

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By Pablo Ros and Pete Levine Explore the Issues

Maria was the strongest hurricane to strike Puerto Rico in almost a century. It made landfall early Wednesday and residents of Puerto Rico have yet to take full stock of the devastation.

But one thing is certain: Our AFSCME sisters and brothers in the island need our help.

AFSCME is encouraging members to help our Puerto Rico sisters and brothers by donating to our union’s Fallen Heroes Fund. The fund provides relief and immediate assistance to those who fall victim to natural disasters and other tragedies.

Although the full extent of the devastation is yet to be assessed, we know that Hurricane Maria wiped out the country’s entire power grid, which could take up to six months to be restored. It has toppled cellphone towers and caused landslides and floods that have left many communities isolated.

“Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” said Emergency Management Director Abner Gómez Cortés.

Thousands of public service workers in Puerto Rico are members of Servidores Públicos Unidos de Puerto Rico (SPUPR)/AFSCME Council 95. They are corrections officers, park and recreation workers, social workers with the Department of Family Services, and more. Council 95 also has a large retiree chapter.

As communication is restored, AFSCME will be in contact with local leaders to assess the needs on the ground. We anticipate an urgent need for food, water and shelter, as well as support for longer-term efforts.

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, you showed what being an AFSCME member really means. Thousands of you, as well as the International union and its officers, have donated more than $310,000 to our Fallen Heroes Fund.

If you’ve already made a donation, thank you. If you haven’t, know that every bit helps and no donation is too small.